Commenting on cuts to Universal Credit of £20 a week, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:  

“Today, millions of families will experience the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit which has come into effect.  The Government has ignored the warnings of teachers, charities, doctors, economists and many Conservative MPs.

'The cut to Universal Credit contradicts the Government’s promise to level up. The help that is now offered to families has been cut down to completely inadequate levels.

'Even before coronavirus, 4.3 million children and young people were growing up trapped in poverty. The impact that this cut will have on rising rates of child poverty is a concern to staff in education and those who lead schools. Independent analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that it risks plunging 500,000 people into poverty, including 200,000 children.

'This shows the Government is out of step with the rising cost of living for low-income families. Poverty creates concrete barriers to learning and we can't rely on school improvement as the only strategy to address poverty. 

'The Government must ensure that no child is left behind after Covid and listen to families and the economic pressures that they are facing. Most poor children live in a household with a parent in work. Families simply can't afford to lose the £20 lifeline today. 

'We ask the new Secretary of State to raise this with the Treasury. We ask the Chancellor to do the right thing and reinstate the £20 to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit at the Autumn Budget and ensure families on legacy benefits are included.”